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Perfect Pairing: 40-cloves-of-garlic chicken

If you need a reliable yet delicious one-pan crowd-pleaser to add to your repertoire, this Provençal-style staple is hard to beat – to match with a range of whites or rosé.

A popular ingredient, chicken is as much a grocery favourite for midweek, minimal-fuss dinners as it is for more indulgent, celebratory weekend cooking. Its versatility is very much its selling point. Stating the obvious, we should all be buying the best-quality chicken our budget allows for, with free range and/or organic chicken being the ideal. A responsibly sourced whole chicken will cost you, and as such I would urge you to be scrupulous in its demolition. After cooking a whole bird and eating your fill, strip the carcass, prising every single morsel from the frame, and use it in a recipe that makes the most of leftovers.

If you are buying chicken from a butcher, a good one should be happy to help with any of your butchering requirements – spatchcocking a whole bird, for example. If not, then as ever there are countless tutorials to show you how to do this online.

With One Pan Chicken, never in my 10 years of writing cookery books has my answer to the question ‘What are you working on at the moment?’ elicited such an enthusiastic response. It has even taken me by surprise. In summary of these conversations – and there have been plenty – people want to eat chicken, and they want to cook that chicken simply, in one pan.

40-cloves-of-garlic chicken

Many food writers – from Richard Olney, Elizabeth David, Keith Floyd and Nigel Slater to Nigella Lawson, me and plenty more – have given the recipe for 40-cloves-of-garlic chicken (thought to be Provençal in origin), but it’s terrific and certainly deserves its place in this book, too.

The older the garlic, the more pungent the flavour, so using some fat cloves of new-season French garlic would no doubt be outrageously good in this recipe, although regular garlic, found already in your kitchen or in supermarket aisles, will also work perfectly well.

Serves four


  • 1kg whole chicken thighs, leg or drumsticks
  • 40 garlic cloves (approximately 3-4 bulbs), unpeeled
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 250ml dry white wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 large thyme sprig
  • 250ml chicken stock or water
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the oil in a casserole pan over a moderate heat. Add the chicken and garlic and fry, turning, for around 8-10 minutes, until both are golden brown all over.
3. Add the wine, bay and thyme, and cook, stirring often, until the liquid is almost completely cooked away.
4. Add the stock or water and cover with a lid. Then cook over a very low heat for around 30-35 minutes, until the chicken is fully cooked through.
5. Remove the casserole pan from the heat and rest the chicken for 5 minutes before serving.
6. Eat the garlic cloves, squeezing them out from their casings, with the chicken and juices.

One Pan Chicken by Claire Thomson (£20 Quadrille) was published in November 2023

Cover of One Pan Chicken by Claire Thomson

Claire Thomson is a chef, food writer and source of family-cooking inspiration on Instagram. She lives in Bristol with her husband and three children. Her previous books include The Art of the Larder, New Kitchen Basics, Home Cookery Year and Tomato. This is her eighth book.

The wines to drink with 40-cloves-of-garlic chicken

By Fiona Beckett

This is more a question of what goes with garlic than what goes with chicken, although the flavour is milder and more mellow than you’d imagine. Since you will be using white wine to make the dish, I’d be inclined to drink white wine with it, too – maybe from Italy rather than France. You don’t want a buttery Chardonnay or an aromatic Sauvignon Blanc, I would venture. Those usefully neutral Italian whites like Orvieto Classico, Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi and Vernaccia di San Gimignano or, more interesting still, Timorasso, would work just fine. A good Soave, as well.

As there’s a Provençal influence, you could obviously drink a Provence rosé, too – I suggest a Bandol rosé, which tends to be more weighty and savoury than a lighter, paler Côtes de Provence. And if you want to drink a red I’d recommend a light one, Beaujolais being the obvious candidate – though a lighter cru such as a Brouilly or Chiroubles, maybe, rather than a Morgon. Marcillac would be a good rustic alternative.

Wines selected by our Decanter experts

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